Guest Post: Campbell’s Fostermom Gets Her Wings

This post was originally published by Kate, co-founder of Jasmine’s House Inc., on the 367survivors.org website. It is a wonderful write up of how our team has come together to help Campbell (the #367 dog you first read about two weeks ago), and how the foundation of that team effort comes from Campbell’s unbelievable Fostermom.  It’s been an intense and difficult journey, but Campbell is in the best place he can be. Read more from Kate:

I have put a lot of challenging dogs in foster care and championed their success – successfully.  I have also fostered a good amount of challenging dogs myself.  But when my darling (and I mean that) friend Heather at Handsome Dan’s said, “this is different; this population of dogs is different,” while I said I believed her – I’m not really sure that I did.

I know Jasmine’s story well, and I know what Catalina went through with her to get her to a place of peace. I know Dan’s story, and Cherry’s to some extent. I know Halle’s story and little bits about Oscar and Little Red, too (note: for those of you who don’t know, these are all dogs from the Michael Vick case in 2007). And I know a number of “non-famous” dogs who came off chains and struggled just the same. But I only know what chained dogs go through when they finally go home based on second hand accounts. I really only “know” what chained dogs go through from the vantage point of someone who has met them after they’ve settled and healed to the extent possible. What I’ve learned, of late, is this: To know their true process for recovery, the ones that struggle the most, is to know them very differently.

The people – the humans with wings (I think, literally) who are willing to share their homes and lives with these survivors while they heal – they are truly my personal heroes. Campbell’s Fostermom is at the top of the list.

Since the incident two weeks ago when the neighbors unexpectedly beat a piñata right on the other side of the fence while he was outside, Cam has had a slow road uphill. He was really leery of outside before the incident – afterwards, forget it. The following days were full of stress colitis (bloody diarrhea), utter refusal to go outside (lots of patient, patient floor cleaning), refusal to eat, and generally panicked behavior. Fostermom and his training team, Amy and Juliana, had been making amazing progress with his stress-mouthing, but it reared its head again in full force after that incident – to the point that Fostermom would have to go in the other room at times and just let him be until he calmed down enough that she could interact again without him completely losing his mind.

He stopped eating and drinking for days. We considered fluids a few times but weighed the stress of administering them against the urgency – fortunately he managed to get enough chicken broth in that he stayed out of real danger. He also lost interest in training and toys because he was so stressed – both things that help to appropriately direct his energy and build his confidence. He was really in distress.

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At one point, he became so disconnected that Fostermom was feeling incredibly sad and scared for his wellbeing. Amy and Juliana made it a goal for Fostermom to focus on his wins to keep above water. When they were there Cam-sitting last week they snapped this photo of his progress board because it’s just so freaking awesome. Maybe it gives some perspective? Things like “drank chicken broth”  and “walked out of crate for chicken” can be so monumental for this dog that they are the progress-board-worthy high points. Put that into perspective for a minute.

One of the things that helped him through his low was his series of play dates/training sessions with Meghan and her magical dog, Kyra. It took a few days, but Kyra managed to pull Cam back out of the lurch just enough that Fostermom was able to connect with him again and start making new progress. He’s since had play dates with Amy’s dog Meera, and has a walking date with JH Foster Lady Bug this weekend, too (this happened and went super well – more details on that later!). In moderation, Cam’s dog interaction really helps to build him up!

memeThe last few days have been the best, and every day this week there have been more positive updates than negative. He snuggled a bit yesterday and today! He met the cat through the crate and did really well! He’s eating and drinking chicken broth more regularly! He’s going outside more than he was before! He’s able to listen to soft music in the car again! He’s barely been mouthy in the last few days and his stomach has settled enough that it’s no longer bloody diarrhea! Just regular runs when he’s upset.

Everything about Campbell is finding the fine balance between too much and too little, and it’s a dance that Fostermom is learning to master more and more with each passing moment. His daily routine and all the tailored things that fill it are his lifeline. Those of us close to his journey live for his little progress updates throughout the day. He’s an amazing, resilient, brave little man.

And really, Super Cam, in case you missed the memo: Your Fostermom definitely has wings.

If you can donate to Cam’s medical and behavioral fund, here’s the link. Campbell say THANK YOU!

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#367

If you are a dog lover – especially a pit bull lover – and you have Facebook, it is likely that you heard about the multi-state dog fighting bust that occurred in August 2013. In total,

Photo from hsus.org

Photo from hsus.org

367+ dogs were seized from throughout Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas after a three year investigation that resulted in the arrest of ten suspects (read more in the Humane Society of the United States’ press release). It was a huge score against animal cruelty.

This past weekend I deployed to the site where these dogs are being held, and I will be volunteering here for five days. The dogs have been at this temporary shelter since the raid – going on five months now – but of course continue to require daily care, which means volunteers are still needed. I jumped at the opportunity to meet and help them.

Because it is a federal investigation, most of the details about the case, including the dogs, are required to be kept under wraps. But what I can tell you is that working with these dogs is one of the most rewarding experiences of my short twenty four years. I have friends who’ve come here over the past few months and told me I’d feel this way, but I didn’t really believe them. I’ve seen a lot of pit bull rescue stuff, this can’t be *that* different, can it? It can.

It’s not a feeling you can grasp by hearing it from someone else. The only way for me to truly feel the effects of working with animals from a cruelty case is to see the dogs for myself: look them in the eye, get to know them as individuals, soak up their entire being. That is what you get to do when you are here volunteering. Sure, you are cleaning and feeding and exercising and working your butt off, but every little task you do is for those dogs. They are with you all day every day, and even the smallest interactions with them give insight into their resilience and strength.

I’m writing this post on night two and while I am completely and utterly exhausted, I’m so happy to know I still have three more days with these dogs, the other volunteers and the HSUS staff who make it all happen.  It’s like a big happy family and a really well-oiled machine all in one – a very exciting operation to be a part of, even if only in a small way.

HSUS and the ASPCA are two national groups who are working with these dogs right now, but there are two additional rescue groups who are making a difference in a big way: Handsome Dan’s Rescue and a rescue many of you should be familiar with if you’ve read this blog for a while now, Jasmine’s House. These rescues are teaming up to take some dogs from this case as soon as the dogs are released (stay tuned for more info on the dogs!). The rescues are going to cover expenses for the transport, medical needs, foster care, etc. of these cruelty survivors. If you’re interested in directly helping these dogs, check out more information from Handsome Dan. If you enjoy really cute puppies, keep an eye on the Jasmine’s House Facebook page because they currently have a 367 puppy in their foster program!

I’ve got so much to say about what I’ve learned from this experience, but I can barely keep my eyes open and have another ten-hour day at the shelter tomorrow so that will have to wait for next week. I will leave you with a quote that has deeply resonated with me in regards to these dogs and what they have faced:

The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.

Photo from facebook.com/humanesociety.

Photo from facebook.com/humanesociety.